I have been having too much fun on this world-wind world trip to spend much time writing about it. When you see how many places I have been you might understand why. So this is a very brief overview, at least you will then have some idea of what I have been up to.
So from New York I flew to Paris and spent 6 days there. Then I flew to London and spent 6 days there. Then I flew to Berlin and spent another 6 days.
From Berlin I flew via Copenhagen to Oulu (northern Finland) where I spent 5 days. Then I bought the interail global train pass (can travel on any train for 15 days within 23 countries, also gets me discount on ferries and busses). I caught an overnight train to Helsinki, spent one night there in a hostel. Caught an overnight ferry to Stockholm, spent the day there then trained to Copenhagen with a little stop in Malmo (in Sweden).
Thoughts on each place:
Everything I had imagined and more. I love Paris! I booked into a hostel at when I arrived. Then I went to a couchsurfing party on the metro (the underground trains, like a subway) - that's right the party was on a train! It was crazy! Hundreds of people and every stop we jumped out and changed carriages.
At this party I met some Parisian's and ended up staying with them for a couple of days. It was amazing to be shown the city by locals and I had an amazing time with them riding bikes around Paris, eating delicious French food and much more that if I write about I will never finish this blog!
Then I stayed with another couchsurfing host and that was also a great experience.
I thought London would be an easy place because English is my first language. But I found it difficult to meet and make friends with Londoner's. I was staying with some friends from New Zealand who live there, but they lived quite far from the city centre. So I moved to a hostel in order to meet more people and be closer to the action. The hostel was awful and I was miserable. I ended up moving to stay with another Kiwi couple, some other friends from NZ. They were lovely too and I had a good time exploring London with Charlotte.
Some good things about London;
- the food market on South Bank - met some cool people and helped out at a coffee stall - best coffee I had had since I left NZ!
- city bikes - you could use the bikes for only 1 pound! It was so much better when I didn't have to walk as much and I really enjoyed biking around the city.
- Brick lane markets - super trendy hip place. Cool because there was a guy cutting hair in an outdoor bar so I got a cool haircut!
I loved Berlin. I stayed in the legendary Circus hostel - not cheap but highly recommended and after London I didn't want to take too many risks.
I was in a 10 bed dorm with 9 boys! Other than the incredibly loud snoring from the 3 Irish guys, it was great. The bed was super comfy and the rooms were huge, the staff were great. Everything in Berlin is so cheap compared to the rest of Europe! Especially food and drinks. I met some really great people at the hostel and had no shortage of people to hang out with. I also knew a few people who lived in Berlin so it was awesome to catch up with them.
I went to a music festival, a party on a lake, did a walking tour of the city, went to the Berlin wall, went to the Jewish museum and so many other things!
Unfortunately I probably did a bit too much and started to get sick. But it was totally worth it! Berlin was so great, I am considering going back before I leave.
Oulu is the 6th biggest city in Finland with a population of 140,000. But I have no idea where they were all hiding! I did the walking tour of the city (took less than an hour, it's so small!) but it was empty! I was couchsurfing with a lovely woman named Paula and her almost 5 year old daughter. They were great hosts and gave me a real taste of what it must be like to live in Oulu. I ate traditional Finnish food, played frisbee golf and they took me to the beach. It was a bit too cold to swim though, about 10 degrees outside. Paula also helped me get an appointment with a doctor who spoke English. I had tonsillitis and a chest infection. Got some antibiotics and I am almost better now, still coughing a bit, but overall much better.
Then I met up with my friend Emilia and we stayed at her friend's place for the weekend. It was awesome to see her again after 5 years and to see what her life is like in Finland, as I had known her in NZ. I got to go to her band practice and see her playing bass with a band - so cool!
Helsinki is cool, was still feeling sick so didn't do too much there. I met an older Russian lady at the hostel who comes there once a year. So she took me on a walking tour of her favourite places and it was really nice.
I have heard it said that Stockholm is Europe's most beautiful city and I can see why! I will have to show you photos later, lots of lovely canals, colourful houses, old buildings, statues.....
I had a arranged to stay with a couchsurfing host in Copenhagen. When I arrived I called him but he wasn't home. So I went and stayed with my friend Rebekka (who stayed at our flat in NZ the week of Michelle's wedding). It turns out Denmark is a bit like NZ - everybody knows everybody. They have a similar population -5.6 million. So Rebekka was actually good friends with the guy I was supposed to stay with. She helped me find the place and I am staying in a family home, I have my own room! There are also some American couchsurfers staying here and they are really nice. Yesterday the Danish boys took us all on a city tour, in the rain, by bicycle. We all got soaked, but it was great!
WHERE TO NEXT
So you might be wondering, where is Jemma going next????
Well, so am I! I have my interail pass, so I can go anywhere whenever I like. It is my German friend Marie's birthday on Monday, so I think I will go to Hamburg next to see her for her birthday, or maybe a few days after. From there I think I will travel around Germany a bit.